Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Need a smiley to express condolence

Shobha De's observation about the demise of Bollywood's grand old man [even funerals are turned into events these days] is, sadly, true.

The turnout at HK Hangal's funeral was dismal. Also traffic flowed smoothly and media lacked frenzy as show-stoppers chose to stay away.

My family, too, had a funeral in India, the same day. Not to mention it was neither an event nor an affair. Just a family mourning together for a matriarch who breathed her last.

As a grandchild, I thought it was my duty to inform folks of my generation as well as a few selected friends who are scattered around the world.

Even as my act of posting the info was strictly without expectations, I could not resist but ponder over one message from one of my friends. The words got the better of me. "I don't know your grandmother. But my condolences."

The very act of the person replying thus reflected the futility of the exercise. Showed how meaningless the words were. Crude and pathetic!

You condole with the affected, not the deceased!

Such ignorant mortals better stick to emoticons! The ones with shades on would be apt so as to hide the true emotions.

Condolences and wishes need to be heartfelt. But when lol!s are used to imply anything from wisecracks to inventions and parentheses-cum-colon combinations convey a myriad emotions, little wonder knowledge of appropriate words are wanting.

The word, I guess, was coined to help people tackle the awkward position they inevitably find themselves in. Majority stammers and fumbles and search for words and gestures when faced with someone who has lost loved ones. "I'm sorry to hear..." is the most commonly used line. Condolence is its crisper cousin.

There are others who call upon the affected. While the effort they take is appreciated, some end up gossiping loudly enough to shed their mourning mask. It's simple logic: If you choose to take time out to pay your so-called respects to the departed soul then hold on for those few minutes and play that damn role modestly. Else, stay away and tweet or post a message.

The veteran Bollywood actor's death was also accompanied by a wave of tweets and messages that inundated the social media networks. But how many fingertips tapped obligation will always remain hidden because of the 'Me Too' syndrome. As media study Twitter traffic to gauge the significance of any untoward incident, movers and shakers ensure they make their presence felt.

But what about the ordinary class who seek to make their presence at someone's death but cannot do it right? A smiley will definitely rescue them.










Sunday, August 12, 2012

My tryst with painters

Into the world of colours I was heralded today. That's the reason why I'm writing this
at 11.30pm - way past my bed-time.

After meeting two painters -  my dear friend Archana and Sheena (whom I got
introduced to only a couple of hours earlier and have added on to my friends' list) my
inner palette is blushing in different hues.

I realised how little I knew of a divine art form. Today I learnt painting jargon (got
many more to comprehend) and understood that one need not start by copying
pictures to paint; that brushes are not the only tool used (how naive of me); why oil
on canvas is considered superior, among several other colourful facts?

The shades of ignorance in me began cloaking itself the moment I strolled into Blu's
(Archana's) venue... A whiff of serenity settled in. A calmness that tested my beliefs.
One that challenged the spirit.

I thought it was the ambience until I stood close to the canvases. From atop tall stands stood nature's untouched beauty and pink skies to the sluggish marshes, love peonies and the mysterious yellow river. There was even a flying horse. Each one spoke to me. In each one I saw a world unto itself.

That's when the bearded man bared his soul. Something in him tugged at me. And Blu
explained how he took life. That was coffee powder on canvas! Wow! If I was jolted
wild on learning coffee could be a medium, too, then I was awed at the minute details
my artist friend captured. I noticed a tiny little button on his shirt which I felt secured
inside his deep feelings of hurt, the reasons for his dishevelled crop of hair and
unkempt beard. From the contours of his jaws I heard him scream a thousand silent
words. I wondered what he ached to share...

Two-and-a-half hours later as I walked out of the venue, I couldn't help but look at
him once again - this time from a distance. And lo! my coffee man appeared to smile
at me.

I stand humbled beneath the magical canopy that painters create!

From there I went to meet Sheena whose portraits jumped with life. If Sheikh Zayed
exuded royalty, then the simple act of a mother applying henna on her grown-up
daughter's hair oozed maternal love. And the two kids whose naughtiness and
innocence sparkled through their eyes made me ask her questions to the techniques
she adopts.

It was in stark contrast to that of Blu's. And it had to be so, I soon realised because
Blu is a self-confessed non-conformist, and Sheena abides by guidelines. But the
difference ended there. For the simple reason that their arena encourages only free

Only those who garner courage to tear themselves off from the mundane hooks, and
desperately wander in ether yearning to conceive concepts that they passionately nurture to full term until they relieve themselves on canvases, can be called painters.

Only they are artists!

PS: Archana's exhibition is on at Raddison Blu, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, for another week. Don't miss an enriching experience.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The morning I was challenged

Date: August 1, 2012
Time: 8.00am
Location: Workplace
Scene: Morning greetings
Characters: The B and Me

B: How are you Nisha?
Me: I'm good B
B: Others should be saying that about you.
Me: How can others say? And how should it matter what others say.
B: That's an arrogant statement, Nisha!

B walked away and I continued with my editing.
But...the rest of that day I pondered on what made him assume I'm "arrogant".

Old habits die hard, I concluded. And that holds true to both of us or anyone on the surface of this 
Let me clarify my stand first.
People around me were used to me sulking, cribbing and complaining about pretty much anything during work hours (home front I’ll write about another time).
My replies to 'How are you' were always an 'OK', ‘Not Bad’, Pulling Along', and if I muttered “Fine” it was always akin to a yawn 'Faaine'!
So how could I blame the person - who is disciplined in asking me this question every single day before he sets about his scheduled tasks and is accustomed to hearing only lethargic, unenthusiastic and pessimistic replies - for reacting thus?
He was probably jolted awake upon hearing a crisp “Good” from a ‘donkey’ (Check out my earlier blog)
The next day at 8 am in the morning, I waited for B’s usual round. He ignored me. I wasn’t surprised. For two reasons – One: That’s his way of telling ‘offenders’ he is displeased with them. Two: One’s wellbeing does prick others.
The next two days happened to be my weekend.
The following morning, I was again asked. But this time the query was structured differently. Umm…the bruise had definitely not healed.
“Nishaaa, are you good today?”
“Great B,” I replied. 
“Are you sure?”, B asked.
I simply smiled.
Three days were sufficient for me to ruminate on my mentors’ words and cement my decision. Wanna change yourself for the better? Wanna have that enviable glow on your countenance? Wanna empower yourself and achieve your dreams? The first step is to feel good about yourself. No matter how sick you are; how ugly you look; or how behind on any coveted ladder you may be…the first step is to be grateful for being alive. And begin saying good things about yourself. What better way that replying you are fantastic and great when asked “How are you?’
Once you repeatedly say you are good, you inevitably begin feeling it, and then it becomes easier to approve of yourself and start loving the self. Once you start loving yourself, it is only natural you will begin working on your flaws and weaknesses and then your dreams will no longer remain that. They become your aims and soon a reality.
So friends, I was challenged on my first step. I remember reading my favourite writer’s words - when you decide to change it is only natural for people close to you to pull you down because they fear to leave their comfort zone. Fret not. Carry on. Those prepared to accompany you will come along. Others can always join you in their own time and space.
Haven’t we heard statements such as “Oh! after he got that promotion, he doesn’t like our company anymore.” “After his business took off (add anything you want here) he started ignoring us.  Or “After her European tour, she thinks we are low class”. Or like I was told, “You wrote one book and you think you know it all. Don’t get cocky!”
Those who are determined to empower themselves will soon find nothing in common with naggers and negators. Period. They’ll move on and find new friends on their way – those who exude the same vibes, understand them and share their dreams.